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Senators Introduce Minerals Permitting Legislation


U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Martha McSally, (R-Ariz.), and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), introduced bipartisan legislation that takes a comprehensive approach to begin reducing the United States’ dependence on foreign minerals. Murkowski made the announcement about S. 1317, the American Mineral Security Act, while delivering remarks at the Benchmark Minerals Summit.

“Our nation’s mineral security is a significant, urgent, and often ignored challenge. Our reliance on China and other nations for critical minerals costs us jobs, weakens our economic competitiveness, and leaves us at a geopolitical disadvantage,” Murkowski said. “I greatly appreciate the administration’s actions to address this issue, but Congress needs to complement them with legislation. Our bill takes steps that are long overdue to reverse our damaging foreign dependence and position ourselves to compete in growth industries like electric vehicles and energy storage.” 

“I am grateful to continue working with Chairman Murkowski to find ways to reduce our reliance on foreign countries for critical minerals in a responsible way. Our legislation requires common sense steps to begin restoring American independence regarding critical minerals and strengthen our national security, diversify our economy and create job opportunities in our communities,” Manchin said. 

“Mining and mineral production is central to Arizona’s economy and identity. The bipartisan American Mineral Security Act will modernize our nation’s approach to critical mineral procurement to boost U.S. production, create jobs, and improve our national security – all while maintaining strong environmental protections,” McSally said.

Key provisions of the American Mineral Security Act would:

  • Codify the methodology used in Executive Order 13817 to designate a list of critical minerals and require that list to be updated at least every three years.
  • Require nationwide resource assessments for every critical mineral.
  • Implement several practical, common-sense permitting reforms for the Department of the Interior (DOI) and Department of Agriculture Forest Service to reduce delays in the federal process.
  • Reauthorize the National Geological and Geophysical Data Preservation Program for 10 years.
  • Authorize research and development for recycling and replacements for critical minerals, as well as chemistry, material science, and applied research and development for processing of critical minerals.
  • Require coordination and study of energy needs for remote mining deposits with microgrid research and small generation research programs across the Department of Energy’s applied offices.
  • Require the Secretary of Labor, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Science Foundation to conduct a study of the nation’s minerals workforce.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the United States imported at least 50% of 48 minerals, including 100% of 18 of them in 2018. That includes 100% of our supply of rare earth elements, graphite, and indium.  

Murkowski introduced similar standalone legislation in previous Congresses, and included a section on critical minerals in her broad, bipartisan energy bill in the 114th and 115th Congresses. The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources has held several hearings on our nation’s mineral security, including one held early in the 116th Congress. 

“As demands for minerals continue to increase, we are seeing a parallel increase in minerals coming to the U.S. from foreign sources, a clear sign that the U.S. mine permitting process is broken. Chairman Murkowski’s legislation is a vital step forward to better position our country to achieve lasting minerals security," said National Mining Association President and CEO Hal Quinn.

“As it stands, our global peers accomplish in two to three years what takes a decade to permit in the United States, deepening our reliance on foreign imports," Quinn said. "This is a problem the chairman has rightfully called the nation’s ‘Achilles’ heel.’ This flawed process hampers access to the raw mineral materials that are essential to our economic growth, discouraging investment and jeopardizing the growth of downstream industries. The United States needs to be doing more to encourage the responsible use of our significant domestic resources to strengthen both our national and economic security. We now call on Congress to pass necessary permitting reforms.”